A/N: I based the estate slightly on the one in Jane Eyre. I think I made up the name McTyre…didn't want to use a common name….hope it sounds Scottish enough...I don't think any of the first names sound very Scottish…I picked a random year for all these occurrences to begin, and this story is not meant to be remarkably accurate historically.


Scotland, November 5, 1620

The willow tree was weeping, as ever, mourning in silent misery to the accompaniment of the rain. Everything appeared to be in a state of total dreary sadness. The huge estate loomed, brick walls rising above the gloomy landscape. Today, Scotland was and eerie place, fog-covered and ghostly. It seemed like a perfect day for a tragedy.

Young Lord Evan McTyre looked out over his estate with a bleak expression. He wasn't heartbroken…just sad and depressed. He didn't love Teresa, never had. They were barely even friends. He saw her only rarely. He shared her bed only on their wedding night and on nights when he felt he needed the physical release it brought. Apparently, those few nights had done their job…Teresa had just given birth to a healthy boy. But the two days of labor had done their damage, and the midwife declared that it was unlikely Lady McTyre would survive the night. Evan didn't know what to think. He had an heir, which meant he could remain a widower if he chose, provided nothing happened to the child. Still, he was sad that Teresa was fading. She was only nineteen. Far too young to die, it seemed. Though younger women died in childbirth every day, of course. And often the child died as well, seemingly making the mother's sacrifice useless. At least Teresa could pass on knowing she had given him an heir. That would make her happy. She was madly in love with him, had been since they met at their betrothal banquet when she was thirteen and he was sixteen.

He remembered that day well. She was a plain little thing, with straight, dull brown hair and average features. Her eyes were grey. She hadn't even begun developing curves at that point. He had been a favorite of all the local girls, tall, with wavy black hair and brilliantly flashing blue eyes. He was at the height of hormones and adolescent ego and had been highly irritated that he was going to be forced to marry the boring little country lord's daughter. He had spent the entire evening flirting with Mary Douglas, a curvaceous strumpet who was a year his senior. The night had ended with him passionately kissing Mary in the gardens and getting caught by his childlike fiancé, whose eyes filled with tears as she ran away. His father had chided him awfully for doing something like that at his engagement dinner, but he hadn't really cared. He had kept his passion with Mary up for several months, until she went to visit an elderly aunt in another county, which fed the rumor that she was almost undoubtedly pregnant. Evan didn't know or care if the child was his; Mary probably didn't even know.

When Teresa was seventeen, and Evan twenty, they were married. Despite that he had been rather a womanizer in the past several years, he immediately decided that he was going to be faithful to his plain little wife. He knew that unfaithfulness always got out, and the pitying glances would shame Teresa. He wasn't a mean fellow, and didn't want to hurt his wife. It was hard to be faithful though. She was cold and unresponsive in bed, and usually cried afterwards. She was shy and quiet and awkward. She constantly watched him with adoring eyes, yet made no move to encourage him to love her back. He might have been able to fall for her if she had let him, but she was so introverted that he was unable to get to know her, let alone love her. Not that he blamed her. It was said that Lord MacGire hit his children, male and female, if they spoke in his presence without permission. It was also rumored that he raped his daughters, which would explain Teresa's stiffness in love-making. She had been a virgin on their wedding night, but that didn't mean her father had not touched her in ways which traumatized her. Evan's main feeling toward his wife was one of sorrow and pity. He turned from the window as Mrs. Brown, the English housekeeper, entered the room, her face sad.

"The midwife says she's slippin' away, Sir. She says if you want to say good-bye, you'd better come."

Evan nodded and followed the large woman to Teresa's chambers. They were dark and gloomy, as was everything on this day. The baby was already nursing at the breast of a young woman who had been called in from the village to be wet-nurse. He moved to Teresa's bedside, looking at her pale face with remorse. He wished he had been able to love her. He knelt at her side and took her cold hand. Her eyes opened slightly, and she stared at him solemnly.

"The…baby. Is…is he…all right?"

"Yes Teresa. He's strong and healthy. I'd wager he'll live to be a hundred. He'll be a fine Lord McTyre someday. You've done well."

Her smile was weak, but sincere.

"Then…my life…has not been….wasted. When he's….older, will you…tell him his mother….loved him?"

"Indeed I will. I'll tell him how you loved him enough to give your very life for him. He will know how good you were."

"I…have given my life…for him…and for…you…I…I love you…Evan…"

How he wished he could honestly respond in kind!

"I know, Teresa, I know. You're probably the only person I've ever known who loves me unconditionally. Thank you, Teresa."

He kissed her forehead and watched her smile as she breathed her last.